instruere...inlustrare...delectare Disputations

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Quod est veritas

Now I want all of you to stop being so completely ridiculous right this very minute. It really doesn't bother me one tiny little bit that, when Mark Shea quotes me, a dozen commenters reply, "You've said better than I could've what I think, Mark." Why would a silly little thing like that bother me? Don't be absurd. What matters is the truth itself, not who rightly deserves the accolades for expressing it so well.

In this case, the truth involves
  • the liturgy as it is described in Church writing (including the prescriptions of the GIRM);
  • the liturgy as it actually occurs in churches;
  • the liturgy as it might be reformed or changed in the (possibly very near) future;
  • how the above relate to each other; and
  • how individual Catholics relate to the above.
There are a number of ways, or dimensions along which, an individual Catholic can relate to these things. There's level of interest, for example, and strength of opinion, and personal competence, and official authority, and perceived importance.

So what do I mean when I say, "Just tell me my lines and my blocking"?

Literally, I mean only that I have a very low level of interest in how the liturgy as it might be reformed or changed in the (possibly very near) future relates to the liturgy as it is described in Church writing (including the prescriptions of the GIRM).

I do not mean that I have no opinions on the liturgy (as described, as practiced, or as reformed). I have plenty of opinions -- at least, I have plenty of druthers, but I recognize that my druthers are merely personal preferences.

Since I lack both the competence to judge soundly and the authority to command action, I don't much value the act of taking counsel (of either myself or others) in these matters. (Did you catch the allusion to the three acts of reason I mentioned the other day?) Not valuing the act of taking counsel means that I don't choose to do much about my natural disinterest in liturgical choices.

I most certainly do not mean that, because I have a low level of interest, I perceive a low level of importance. There are all sorts of things I think are important but don't find interesting. Fiscal policy comes to mind, as does airplane maintenance. If I said, "I don't care about debates over how much power to apply during engine maintenance run-ups," I trust no one would think I was saying it doesn't matter how much power is applied.

It's true that I have not mentioned my lack of interest in run-up power, while I have mentioned, without being asked, my lack of interest in the pending motu proprio. The reason is that the ubiquity of the interest in the latter in St. Blog's tends toward an "all true Catholics" impression that everyone is keyed up over it. I think it's worthwhile occasionally counteracting that impression. As it is, St. Blog's is an ... unusual enough selection, statistically speaking, from the Church Universal; we shouldn't start thinking it's a uniform selection, too.

There are a couple of points about whether, "Just give me my lines and my blocking," is a prescription for others, but I'll save them for a subsequent post.